With the 10th overall pick in the draft, the Wizards are going to select a player who has at least some degree of questions surrounding their future and what they can ultimately become at the NBA level. Unless you have the No. 1 pick in a year that a player like LeBron James or Shaquille O'Neal is entering the league, there are essentially no guarantees in the NBA Draft and the later you select, the less certainty there is.
The Wizards should have some viable options at 10th overall, but with each player projected to go in that range, there are question marks. To fill in those gaps, I interviewed Jimmy Patsos, a former Division I college coach who now works as an NBA analyst for NBC Sports Washington and other outlets. He knows the game, he's well-connected from the high school ranks to the NBA and he also goes to all the major events to scout talent and interact with basketball personnel.
Patsos has a well-rounded perspective on the players in the draft and in many cases has seen them play for years. I picked five players and asked him what I feel are the two most pressing questions for each of them to get some expert intel on who the Wizards could draft. Here is our Q&A:
Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona
Hughes: Mathurin is an explosive athlete, he's got a smooth jumper, he plays with a lot of energy and competitive fire. But will he be able to fill in the gaps to truly reach his potential at the NBA level?
Patsos: "He's a guy who's got a really good energy and motor. He wants to be good. He knows he's reached the beginning of his next journey, to the pros. Some [NBA players] are just happy to be in the NBA. Bennedict Mathurin is one of those guys that is going to get better. I know his people in Montreal really well. He's really got a big upside. He's really just starting to scratch the surface and that's a really nice thing because the Wizards [could use more upside]. Maybe it's time to go a little younger with a guy who has a really high ceiling who can really score the ball... you really need another prolific scorer and that's what he is... I do really like him if he's there at 10, but I am hearing he could go 7-to-10. The Trailblazers really like him and it could go that way."
Hughes: Mathurin has obvious potential on offense; it's not just the dunks and threes, he's got a solid midrange floater, particularly off catch-and-gos. But what about his defense? The Wizards need defenders, they need two-way players. How do you evaluate his upside on that end of the floor?
Patsos: "Great question. Unfortunately, this has not been a strongsuit of the Wizards... if you're athletic and you put your mindset to it, I think you can play defense. I think with Mathurin, that's not going to be a strongsuit, but I would take my chances on him... I would take him, easily, if he's available at 10. We'll figure the defense part out later."
Dyson Daniels, G, G-League Ignite
Hughes: Daniels may be the best in the draft for the Wizards in that he's a point guard, he's big, he's a gifted passer and he defends. But does he have high enough of a long-term upside to be a top-10 pick?
Patsos: "If you can be a little patient, [yes.] The name you're going to hear is Josh Giddey of the Thunder. Dyson Daniels is tall like him and he's Australian, too. He's tall, he's got game... he didn't go to a Blue Blood [school like Duke or Kentucky], but if he did, I think he's a no-brainer... he really tests out well... he's got a big upside, he can play the point, he's long and rangy... so, he may not be your starting point guard right away Day 1, but he eventually can be. He can play lots of guard positions. He's got super upside on talent, he's got good vision for the game and he's young..."
Hughes: In terms of fit, there has been some debate about how he would play alongside Bradley Beal. On one hand, his size and defense would perfectly complement Beal. But Daniels also needs to improve his 3-point shot and, given where Beal's efficiency has gone in recent years, it's a fair question. How do you see those two co-existing in the backcourt?
Patsos: "I think Bradley Beal can play some point. I was impressed this year, he's a skilled passer and he wants to win. He does a great job coaching his AAU team on the Nike circuit. He sees the game through the lens of a player, but he also sees it through the lens of a coach... I think he can move to the one and then that takes off some pressure. Then, it's not like Daniels is out there by himself with the ball... I think he can get a better shot. I think he can play with Beal... But his primary thought is to be a point guard and, let's face it, there's a glaring need at point guard. Tommy [Sheppard] has done a tremendous job cleaning out the [Russell] Westbrook and [John] Wall salary [but they need a point guard]... and this might be the year you roll the dice with the draft and I think Dyson Daniels and Beal can play together. I think it's actually a good complementary [pairing]."
Tari Eason, F, LSU
Hughes: Tari Eason looks like a terrific defender; 7-foot-2 wingspan, disruptive, he forces turnovers, he's tough, he's physical. He seems to check every box defensively. How good of a defensive player do you think he can be in the NBA?
Patsos: "Great athlete, looks the part... Tari Eason's one of those guys that if you trade [back] from 13 to 25 [you may be able to still get him]. He's athletic, he measured well. But the shooting thing has to concern you. Not everybody is Draymond Green where you say 'well he can't shoot, but that's okay'... every other position on the floor [except center] has to be able to shoot the ball and I'm not sure he can. I would rather package the trade and get someone better... [or, if you move back] then I like Tari Eason, I like him better."
Hughes: You mention the offensive questions. He's a good defender, but can he be more than that? Now, he averaged 16.9 points per game last year at LSU, he shot 80.3% from the free throw line on high volume, 35.9% from three. But he probably needs to work on his ball-handling and he's a good, but not great outside shooter. So, can he be more than a defender at the NBA level?
Patsos: "You know who you just described? Pascal Siakam. That's who he was coming out of college and he put the work in. We all know how good Siakam is, it's unbelievable... if you have a little patience, and maybe if you pick [Eason] in a different spot... it takes a lot of guts to pull that lever [with the 10th pick]."
Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin
Hughes: Johnny Davis seems like the type of player that a coach like yourself would love. What do you like about his game?
Patsos: "He is a very, very polished kid... he can play fast, but he's from a slow system. I like that for his upside. He's very old school. He reminds me of Doc Rivers when Doc Rivers was playing... that's what Doc Rivers played like. Is he going to be a star? No, but he can be a starter... I think he has a big upside. I really like his game. High-character guy... he's got a good background, a good mind, I think he wants to get better... he's a really safe draft pick, the problem is - and I like Johnny Davis a lot - [the Wizards have made some safe draft picks lately]. Johnny's back in that mold and there's nothing wrong with that... while I like Johnny Davis a lot, I don't think he's a home run."
Hughes: I see a smart, skilled and patient player particularly on the offensive end, a tough defender; but I wonder what his ceiling is because he's not the biggest or most explosive athlete. He's not the fastest guy. Am I making too much of that? Is there still a path for him towards being a star player?
Patsos: "I think he can be a starter. Can he be [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope]? I think he can be KCP. He's got a ring on his finger and has had a fantastic career... I think Johnny Davis can be like that. He knows how to get 20 [points] because he's been doing that his whole life... Johnny Davis has scored and he's won everywhere he's been. He's played slow and he's played fast. No matter where he's been, he's adapted. "
TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky
Hughes: TyTy Washington fits in that he's a point guard, but he's young and he's relatively raw. So, what do you think are his biggest strengths that could play at the NBA level in the short-term? What is his path to minutes, what are the skills that he can hang his hat on as a rookie?
Patsos: "I believe that [John] Calipari gets these guys ready and mentally prepared, but he has to win so sometimes he has to [change roles] and they're playing with five other really good guys... you have to fit in to play and sometimes that makes their stats look weird... that being said, I was really disappointed in TyTy Washington [when I saw him play in person]. Really disappointed... I'm concerned because TyTy Washington played really poorly against Auburn... and against Saint Peter's [in the NCAA Tournament], I'm standing there and he loses and does nothing to take the game over. Bradley Beal just would not have lost that game. That concerns me... no one's taking him at 10... but maybe [he's the next Kentucky guard to surprise]. He was in over his head his freshman year, I didn't think he was in the greatest shape. He is tall... everything kind of went wrong for him the last six weeks of the season... but that being said, maybe that's our opportunity to steal a guy, if that makes sense."
Hughes: Tyler Herro, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Devin Booker, Tyrese Maxey; all these guys were overlooked going into the draft. What is it about Kentucky guards and could TyTy Washington be the next guy? If he is the next guy to fall in that line, what do you think would make that happen for him?
Patsos: "[Calipari] knows how to pick players that have really good upside... he is a great picker of talent. John Calipari is outstanding and watching a room full of guys and that's what happens... Calipari has proven that... he is really good at picking out who is going to be good. He very rarely misses. So, even though TyTy Washington didn't play very well, I'm trusting John Calipari's ability to pick really good players."